Kev Wright Interview and His New Album: Journey Road

On the day of our interview, Kev Wright’s focus was on his upcoming performance at Joliet’s Chicago Street Pub. He wanted to be sure to find the right amp for the night’s occasion. “It’s important not to blow them out of the room,” he explains, “the etiquette between the artist and crowd goes both ways, but at the same time, I want to be sure to hit that rockin’ sweet spot where the audience really feels it but can still carry on a conversation or do whatever they’d like in the back of the room.” That is what I call a man who truly cares about his listeners and appropriately applying his craft to any given situation!

Kev is well known across the country for his southern rock electric guitar playing, but he hasn’t picked up his electric since parting ways with his old band, Righteous Hillbillies. He’s simply gone in a new direction. At the Chicago Street Pub gig, he will reveal to locals and dear friends what he’s been up to for the last half a year. In accordance with his selfless and caring ways, he also intends to give his audience a pleasing dose of that electric rock they have come to expect from him and love so well. His new project and first solo album, Journey Road, however, is acoustic.

So, what prempted this new pursuit? “It all started with a phone call,” Kev reflects. “Jeff Givens, legendary songwriter and musician had heard my guitar playing and wanted me to record with him and play guitar on his new album. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.” The recordings with the Bourbon Cowboy weren’t to take place in just any studio, but in arguably music’s most historic recording studio: Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

For a long time I couldn’t believe that an old road weary musician could start over,” Kev reflects, but at 61 that is exactly what Kev Wright has done. His transformation isn’t necessarily out of intention, but out of almost divine or rather spiritual intervention. In short, Muscle Shoals spoke to him. The moment he walked through Fame Studios’ door, Kev felt the other-worldly presence of spirits (something he really didn’t believe in until that experience). Jeff’s bassist noticing Kev’s first impression told him, “you know this place is filled with ghosts.” Spending time creating in this profoundly spiritual and musical place has transformed him from electric rocker to the acoustic storytelling troubadour he’s become. As Jeff Givens told him: “You’ve been to the Mountain, brother.”  Nothing has been the same since.

Thanks to his life-changing visit to “the Mountain,” Kev has become a new man, taken a leap, and set out to release his first solo album, Journey Road this April. The 16-track album features songs that come from a multitude of places and cover a wide range of themes. Kev explains: “my time at Fame inspired me to step out and try new things and do things in ways I had never done before; to explore and live life. I realized that I had never fully let myself go. That’s exactly what I did on this album.”

Crashin From The Sky

In Midwest Action’s Song Premiere Track from Journey Road: “Crashin From The Sky,” Kev reconfigures the words of a man’s love poem he received in an email from a friend, author, and music historian, David Masciotra. Kev used the story’s words to describe a situation many find ourselves in at least once in our lives. He describes the situation well: “In our lifetime, most of us have met someone we have fallen for because of their outer shell, mannerisms, or whatever. The color of their eyes, hair, etc. all intertwine in that moment. After you get to know the person, you find that inside they are dark, crazy, and sad. But you’ve already gone past the line. You can’t walk away. And you plunge into their darkness… She’s already broken you. You have to leave and yet you keep going back.”

 

How did Journey Road get it’s name?

Kev describes the project’s major dilemma, the momentous challenge of making the songs on the album cohesive. “How does anybody on earth take 16 songs from different styles and backgrounds and make them cohesive, bring them all together, and make them organic and true? I asked myself: ‘How in god’s name am I going to do this?’ I didn’t think I could accomplish it.”

His grandfather ended up being the link that brought all the songs together. It was as if Kev’s grandfather was the ghost he connected with at Fame and has since channelled into the new recordings; the road that connected all the song’s journeys. Kev recalls: “I didn’t know it at first, but as I went on with the recording process, many of the people who worked on the record began to notice that I was deeply inspired by my grandfather and the experiences I had had with him. Everyone began to say: ‘he’s with you on this project.’ And I really began to feel that. The feelings were so strong and made so much sense that it was impossible to get through the songs without crying.”

Journey Road, then is a spiritual awakening for songwriter, Kev Wright. I believe it’s a spiritual awakening for his listeners as well.